Drag me to jail: A queen's account of prison

Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

Holy Untucked has this been a wild year for me! As many of you may know, I have been out of touch for a little while. Well, it's time to face the music and be honest, because I believe the best way to grow and move on is to accept things that have happened and learn from the experience. Things happened and it's time to spill the T!

It all started back in 2015, when I was arrested for my first DUI. Contrary to popular belief, I was not drunk—my BAC-level was .02. The DUI was a result of THC levels in my blood.

The following year was a very hard year for me, as I suffer with severe anxiety and depression. I was dealing with a lot of personal issues and found it very hard to cope with and remain the happy go lucky person everyone always knew. I was arrested again later that year for reckless endangerment and later bonded out.

Paige Turner Promo Reelyoutu.be

This arrest was of course in violation of my probation, so guess what? “Go to jail!” and no I didn't get to collect $200. After a short stay, I was released and given an extra year of probation. Fun times, right? I understand and totally agree—I made those mistakes. I'm an adult and can own up to it.

The next year began well, however my depression was eating away at me. Instead of seeking professional help, I chose to drown my problems in alcohol. Terrible idea, right?

In the past I hadn’t been a big drinker—I liked my weed, which I was very vocal and honest about. I drank from time to time but never like I did this past year. The people closest to me—and even those who weren't—definitely noticed and missed the old me.

I missed me too. It just took something big to remind me. Now that you’re up to speed, we can get to the juicy part. Back in July, I was arrested for my second DUI. That's right I F***** up again!

I'm not happy about what I did—not because of the consequences I endured but because of what could have happened. I could have ended some innocent person's life. I am truly sorry for that, and it has really opened my eyes.

My arrested for DUI-2 resulted in another violation of my probation. This gave me a long time to think—40 days to be exact! Have you ever been isolated from everything for over a month? That S*** is insane, but it's also humbling. Turns out we actually CAN live without social media and technology. However, if you’re looking to try it, I wouldn't recommend the resort I was in.

I did get to learn a lot about myself, things that I missed and loved, and how I was going to get back to that place in my life. It's still a work in progress, but I have already done so much with the little time I've been out.

I really wanna tell you all about what it's like on the inside for queens—and really any out LBGTQ person. So here goes…

When you are placed in jail, they have this thing called classification, which assigns you to a certain pod/unit. They ask you questions about your age, background, and most importantly if you are homosexual or classed in that category. If you answer yes, you are placed in a “special needs” unit with people who actually have special needs and, here is the real kicker, sex offenders.

They claim we are placed into this unit for our own protection from the general, which I suppose could be somewhat true. But how exactly are we safer with sex offenders? They justify this separation using a classification system that groups members of the LBGTQ community in the same category as those having a mental illness. Now I know I can get a little cray cray at times but this to me seemed very ridiculous.

I can say I was in general population for four days before going to classification and everyone in my pod was very nice and couldn't care less about my sexuality, nor did I feel preyed upon. I actually didn't receive sexual advances until I was moved into the “special needs” pod, so tell me how this system actually protects us?

Not only was I sexually harassed by multiple individuals, but I also was attacked twice shortly after being moved to this pod for my “safety”. I know what some of you are thinking: “Well, don't go to jail B****!” And that’s great advice of course, but making a mistake, or mistakes, doesn’t justify what LGBTQ people experience in jail.

Television and some movies can make jail look entertaining, humorous, or sometimes even glamorous. Well I am here to tell you, honey, it’s not! People see things portrayed in media—with all gay and trans inmates in one big unit where we make dresses and costumes out of sheets and do makeup with markers and pencils, then put on shows for each other.

Don't make me chuckle. Granted I did meet a few other “girls” in there that were cool, but I also met some that were very vindictive and shady. For example, when a new “girl” came in, the one who had gotten the most attention from the others in the pod became very territorial. She wanted—as they say in the movies—to claim “big dog” status by attacking or fighting the new one.

This to me was so ridiculous, because my main focus there was to get out, but sadly not everyone there wants to get out. Some of these “girls” work the streets when they are out and have nowhere to go and have no interests in changing. They somehow feel important there and just don't want to leave, and when they do they are back in no time at all.

Another thing: in there, some of the guards/corrections officers that are there to watch or protect us just don't give a flying f*** what goes on with the LBGTQ inmates. In fact during my stay I was constantly subjected to gay slurs and harassment by a corrections officer, even after filing multiple grievances.

Now don't get me wrong not all of the officers were like that, but there were more than I felt comfortable with. If you ask me, one is too many. The truth is, our community is not safe or protected, at least not where I was incarcerated. So I highly recommend not going. “Keep ya nose clean, toots!”

In all seriousness there needs to be a better system, designed to protect our brothers and sisters while incarcerated. So yeah, we messed up, but does that mean we deserved to be discriminated against or even sexually assaulted? I would say most definitely not! I will say that my time there really opened my eyes to not only my situation but that of others as well.

Granted, I did meet some really great people there and they really helped me learn to laugh and make the most of my time, although I never have any intention of ever returning (of course). As Ace of Base would say “I saw the sign”—and boy did it open up my eyes!

Meet Paige Turner, the eternal theater kid and fabulous NYC drag queenyoutu.be

If anyone you know or love is a member of the LBGTQ community and is currently incarcerated, don't turn your back on them—they just simply f***ed up. You never know what someone is personally going through, and why they made those mistakes to begin with. More importantly, you have no idea what they are going through right now during their incarceration. They need you, now probably more than ever.

Forgive and forget: it makes life and time go by much more smoothly. In the great words of RuPaul herself, “Everybody say LOVE! Now take that down to your nearest location and pick up an issue of Out & About Nashville to get all the T in the latest Nashville Untucked!”

Well I think it was something like that. See you next month!

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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